THE Legislative Assembly of Tonga is to host the first ever Parliament Week in the Kingdom from Monday, October 6 – Friday, October 10, 2014, which aims at furthering students and the general public’s knowledge on how Parliament works and the role that it plays in the governance of Tonga.

The expected outcome of this Parliament week is to encourage the people of Tonga to actively participate in the political life of their country. This can only be done with a greater understanding of the relevant political processes and institutions, especially the Legislative Assembly (Parliament) where most of its Members are elected by the people of Tonga.

This Parliament Week– which will take place under the motto ‘Our Parliament’ - intends to do just that and sees the Parliament open its doors to its people and explain the various aspects of its work.

The weeklong event is being implemented by the Parliament itself, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), under the Tonga Governance Strengthening Programme. The funding of the entire programme has been generously provided by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The event is part of the Parliament’s commitment to building a transparent, modern and a more representative Parliament for the people under a more participatory and representative democracy.

It will also touch on issues such as the principle of Separation of Powers and the relationships between the three arms of Government; Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary.
Staff from different divisions of the Office of the Legislative Assembly will work together with Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders to provide information to the public and students attending the week-long programme.

The ceremonial opening on Monday (October 6) will feature an address from the Lord Speaker of the House at the Parliament compound, Nuku’alofa at 10am. There will be also speeches from the Australia High Commissioner and UNDP, to be concluded with a tour of various information booths on the premises and of the Parliament Chamber.

The information booths will provide information on the History of Parliament; The new Political reform; The work of Parliament; the Separation of Powers; and, How Bills become Law, the Roles of an MP and so forth.

From Monday to Friday, the morning sessions from the Information booths at Parliament premises are reserved for high school students while the afternoon sessions are for the general public. 10 secondary schools are expected to visit the Parliament during the week.

Other featured activities of the Parliament Week will include radio and TV programmes, essay and poem competitions and other activities to be held at the Civic Square at Nuku’alofa.

The topic for the essay and poem competition is “What does Parliament mean to you?” or “Ko e hā ‘a e ‘uhinga kia koe ‘a e Fale Alea” or “Ko e hā ‘a e Fale Alea ‘i he anga ho’o vakai”. Both competitions are open for everyone including high school students.

The essays are to be written in the English language with no less than 1000 and no more than 1500 words. Poems can be composed in either the English or Tongan language and shall be no less than 4 verses.

The prizes for each category are: Essays – First prize $700 (sponsored by Kingdom Travel Centre), Second Prize $500 (sponsored by A&A Retailer), and Third Prize $300 (sponsored by Nishi Trading).

Poems – First prize $700 (sponsored by Tonga Communication Corporation (TCC), Second Prize $500 (sponsored by Prema & Sons Ltd) and Third Prize $300 (sponsored by Palu Aviation Services).

There will also be a special prize of $500 (sponsored by Tonga Power Ltd & Home Gas Ltd) known as “The Speaker’s choice”, to be chosen by the Speaker of Parliament, Lord Fakafanua, from amongst the entries to both categories of the competition.

Entries can be accepted from now until 4pm Wednesday 8 October 2014.

There will be other sponsorships from Lunarossa Restaurant, Waterfront Restaurant and Lodge, and Vakaloa Beach Resort. These prizes are to be awarded at quiz and other competitions to be held over the week-long event.

More information on the week’s event and terms of the competitions can be obtained from Dr Sione Vikilani, Deputy Clerk, at 23565.

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